POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Sep 02, 2011
LAST UPDATED: 10:16 p.m. HST, Sep 02, 2011
Offensive line coach Gordy Shaw does not want to look down on a recruit.
“If I can see the part in his hair,” said Shaw, who is 6 feet 3, “that’s not a good thing.”
In building the offensive line, the Warriors no longer adhere to the one-size-fits-all approach. The goal is to recruit tall and athletic linemen.
“Look around the country — look at the draft picks, the (offensive) tackles in the NFL,” Shaw said. “When you throw the ball as much as we do, if (a defender) can see over the top of a (blocker), it’s a hell of a lot easier to find the quarterback than it is to get on the edge and find him. They have a 50-50 chance of taking the wrong edge. It makes it more difficult for a defensive lineman to pass rush when he has to look around.”
That philosophy led the UH coaching staff to Kauai in 2009, where Kapaa High senior Sean Shigematsu showed he had the measurables.
“I liked his athletic ability,” Shaw said. “I liked that he was an all-star basketball player and an all-star volleyball player. And I liked his height.”
It did not matter that Shigematsu, who is 6 feet 5, weighed 230 pounds at the time.
“I didn’t look at who he was then,” Shaw recalled. “I looked at who he could become. You can do a lot of things with a player with excellent height and a great wing span.”
Soon after, UH head coach Greg McMackin offered Shigematsu a scholarship.
“I accepted it right away,” Shigematsu said. “You can’t get any better than that.”
Later, the coaches would learn that Shigematsu’s father, Delroy, was a multi-sport athlete who played football at Nevada-Las Vegas in the late 1970s.
They also discovered that although Shigematsu has a calm demeanor — “he doesn’t have high highs or low lows,” Shaw said — he is ferociously competitive. In checkers, he wants to be king. In Monopoly, he wants to be Donald Trump.
“Everybody loves to win,” Shigematsu said. “In competition, that’s when it comes out. It’s not anger, it’s the competitive nature. That’s when the switch turns on. I don’t want to lose. Once I step on the field, I’m trying to earn something.”
He found outlets year-round, participating in football, basketball, volleyball and track. Through his sophomore season at Kapaa, he was a quarterback, studying former Warriors Nick Rolovich and Tim Chang.
“I watched them slinging around the ball,” Shigematsu said.
Now Rolovich is UH’s offensive coordinator, and Shigematsu, who moved to the offensive line as a Kapaa junior, has competed as the Warriors’ No. 1 right tackle.
Shigematsu sponged advice from Laupepa Letuli, a former Warrior, and worked out with offensive lineman Austin Hansen. Some drills involved hitting the punching bag in the UH weight room, others focused on maintaining a low stance.
Shigematsu also worked on gaining weight, which wasn’t easy for someone who rarely eats rice. He reported to UH in August 2010 weighing 260; he has gained more than 40 pounds since then.
“He’s a well-proportioned 300-pounder,” Shaw said. “He gained weight, but didn’t lose his agility. He can stay on the pass-rushers.”
At Kapaa, Shigematsu was the tallest student. A tailor made his senior-prom clothes. At UH, in Shaw’s schemes, Shigematsu is a perfect fit.
If Clayton Laurel did not have bad luck, he would not have any luck at all. Laurel’s chances for meaningful playing time were short-circuited the previous two seasons because of foot and wrist injuries. He conquered a sore foot this past summer to retain the left tackle’s job.
There was concern when center Matagisila Lefiti strained his left PCL. But he missed only two practices, and will anchor the O-line. Left guard Brett Leonard gets his shot at a full-time job this year.
The key might be right guard Chauncy Winchester-Makainai, who is excellent on pulls. He reportedly plays best when he is mad. The challenge, strength coach Tommy Heffernan joked, “is to get him mad every day.”